The stop-gap law on land rights in former homelands was due to expire in 1997. It was just ...

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Despite all the complications involved, that law ran to just three pages, if you count its ornate but content-free first page, because it was a hastily crated stop-gap, literally intended to buy just a few months of breathing room.

But on Friday the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act was extended for another year before it could expire at the end of December, at which point it would already have been 22 years overdue for retirement. The notice that creates that extension, buried in the middle of a 200-page Government Gazette, is perfunctory and by now routine, but illustrates how long South Africa has failed to come up with a comprehensive solution to land reform – even before new controversy around expropriation without compensation and the fate of land held by the Ingonyama Trust.

See also: Why Cyril Ramaphosa’s land reform panel loves individual ownership of farms – and thinks group-farming is a quick way to make people poorThe "interim" law was intended to make sure people were not kicked off land to which they had a clear claim, but without paperwork to prove that.

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